Anyone going bitless…?

This topic contains 22 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  mary_holcombe 3 years, 10 months ago.

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  • Liz Original Poster Liz
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 17

    I was just wondering if anyone here does their discipline bitless?

    I’m in the process of ordering a bitless bridle for my driving horse. Apparently they do bitless (and blinder-less) driving quite a bit in the UK, Italy, etc. (from what I’ve read on the web anyway)

    Has anyone here ever gone bitless? (for riding or driving)

    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 22

    I have been bitless with my Arab since he was broke 20+ years ago. His canine’s came in too far back in his jawline, and caused him extreme pain when wearing a bit. I first started him with a bosal, then just riding him with a halter, but when they came out with a bitless bridle, I went ahead and purchased one and he’s been wearing it ever since. We do it all, trail riding, gymkhana, everything. The only thing we are unable to compete in successfully is western/english pleasure because the rule book states that horses must wear a bit, so the judges mark him down considerably. I am currently breaking my 2 1/2 year old TB, and while I’m teaching him to wear a bit so that we can perform in all disciplines, when we go to endurance and trail rides, I will be riding him bitless. There is absolutely no reason why a bit is necessary if the horse is well trained.

    Liz Original Poster Liz
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 17

    I’m glad to hear that! I got kind of discouraged when I asked a harness company if they sold bitless driving bridles and got told off pretty harshly (told I was going to cause an accident, hurt someone else, myself, or my horse…told that driving horses NEED a bit so they know you’re behind them etc.)

    I just kind of gave up talking to people about it after that. Ordered one off the internet, and haven’t said anything to anybody since.

    I doubt I’ll be able to compete anymore (everyone will probably refuse to get in an arena with us! lol) but I don’t care. The more I used the bit the more I didn’t like it. My horse didn’t really object to it too much but I eventually started thinking “why am I doing this?”

    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 61

    I am training my horses for trail riding all bitless. I am still straitening out a few kinks, but it is going really well. I have been told the same things about how it is not safe, but if you do it right it can be just as safe if not more safe! What do you do if your horse runs through the bit?

    There is even a professional horse trainer that trains bitless.

    Sarah Sue
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 7

    I’ve tried bitless riding (with a Dr. Cook bitless bridle) on 3 out of 5 horses I’ve owned and they have all done well. My TB was an energetic hunter who would curl up behind bits and he goes perfectly in the bitless. I wish I could’ve shown in it! Even my feisty Halflinger enjoys it, although if I go x-country I use a bit because she can get too strong. I think whenever you can go bitless, you should, as long as you’re safe and your horse stays listening. Why pull on their sensitive mouths unless it’s really better or necessary?

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Check out There is a whole page about going bitless and the benefits. I went bitless with my mares using those methods and I couldn’t be happier about the results. I’ve ridden trails and even gone in the show ring bitless and they do wonderfully.

    IrishMelody IrishMelody
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 27

    If you want to try it, I say go for it. I doubt you will cause a wreck simply because you don’t drive with a bit. I agree with sarahsue, why be in their mouths if you don’t have to be. Through talking with others in the horse world and doing research and such, I have found many stories of success switching to bitless. People say their horses are happier and are more willing to work.

    This summer I started retraining a 16 yr old former cart racer who has had many years of work free retirement to jump. I don’t think she has had any formal training to do bitless, but that is how we ride. I haven’t had big problems with her, just the expected refusals and trying to run around jumps. She slows down, stops and turns just fine. It is a unique experience to go from riding in a bit to riding bitless. She is the second horse I have gone bitless with, and I am in love with it. My green horse was broke bitless and I think that is how he will be finished. He has a lot of spunk but has not been any trouble to control.

    NinaJD NinaJD
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 139

    Currently retraining a horse with bitless.
    People think a horse needs a bit to be controlled. If you have a great partnership with your horse and they respect you and love their job, you don’t need one.
    There was a jumper in the olympics who got a lot of crap for jumping bitless, but hey his horse did amazing and it shut people up.

    I say go for it. Take the metal out of your horses mouth. Even if you do it slowly. I would work on saddle riding first and then once he gets the pressure down, move onto driving.
    This is the biggest challenge for horses who are used to a bit. Adjusting to the pressure. But if you’ve done any work in just a halter, he’ll pick it up quickly.

    Good luck!!

    "Take the time it takes, so that it takes less time."
    "Expect a lot, accept a little, reward often."
    Pat Parelli

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    I’ve ridden several of my horses with rope halters on all day rides and they’ve been great, but haven’t felt that all of mine were good candidates. It is lovely when you and your horse are so close that you don’t need a bit.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    It’s important to understand that a horse’s natural tendency is to resist pressure; therefore, it’s very important to begin teaching them to give to it instead – from any point they feel it on their body. Eventually they will move away from it with almost a whisper of a touch if a touch is needed at all. In a very sensitive horse, they can even learn to feel when your hand is near.
    Even from the very beginning, a bit is an aid which is last in a chain of signals when a horse is being ridden. When trained to give to the slightest pressure, even a green horse will respond to leg pressure as if it is an old pro but, prior to that, since your body becomes a part of the horse’s balance wise, he will feel a shift in your weight the moment you even think of changing direction. THIS is the ultimate and primary guidance your horse will receive so far as direction. If that is ignored, he knows the bit is there. That said, I have not used a bit in fourty-one years.
    However, since you will not actually be a part of your horse and, thus, lose that body guidance, you may need to use something which will indeed give you a little more control such as a mechanical hackamore. Gently used, they are kind.
    If you do choose to go bitless, you will probably want to go over the very beginning steps of teaching your horse to give to even the slightest pressure just as if you are training a green horse. Next, see how he will do when being driven just with reins and a simple small-rope tied halter. Once he/she responds satisfactorily at that step, it is not even necessary to buy a new bridle. You can simply drop the noseband on an English bridle down and enclose it in the sidepieces where a bit would normally be held [Shorten the headpiece on both sides a little more than you would with a bit.] but always keep in mind that when being driven, your horse has lost the initial cues of body weight and leg pressure which are ultimately what guides a horse long before a bit is touched.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    Of course, with a mechanical hackamore, you lose the direct rein aspect.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    As far as driving here in the US goes, ADS (American Driving Society) prohibits the use of bitless driving bridles & I’ve never heard of/been to a driving clinic or event where they are allowed. While the likelihood of something going wrong may be very low, if your horse does spook, it’s not just the horse that can fall on you or a stirrup to get caught up in. Parts of the carriage (especially the wheels!) can injure you worse than if a horse falls on their rider. I’ve had horses, drafts, minis, & ponies run away with me in a carriage & it can very difficult to get them stopped even with the reins in the “dead man’s slot”!
    One thing I have learned, though, is that most of the horses go much better with a bit that has an arch, straight, mullen, or double-jointed mouthpiece. One mini that would completely flip out in a single-jointed half-cheek snaffle was a completely different horse when the trainer switched her to a mullen-mouth half-cheek!

    "I don't ride horses just because it's fun. Ask any rider; most of them hate parts of it, but couldn’t imagine their life without it. It becomes a part of them, the love/hate relationship. It’s what we live for. It's what I live for."

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    Here’s a link to the ADS ‘s New Drivers page. It has a bunch of information that is useful even for very experienced drivers to reference!

    "I don't ride horses just because it's fun. Ask any rider; most of them hate parts of it, but couldn’t imagine their life without it. It becomes a part of them, the love/hate relationship. It’s what we live for. It's what I live for."

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    I am also a driver and would have no problem with driving my minis bitless and blinker-less. (I do drive my minis in bits) The problem is finding the equipment. You can find bitless nosebands on Ebay. Then, all you would have to do is attach it to a mini sized English bridle. When I was riding, I quite enjoyed riding my horses in a bosal or using a bitless bridle. If a horse is going to take off with you, they will run right through any piece of steel you can find to put in their mouth. The only problem I see, is if you compete in driving shows, especially sanctioned by ADS, they do not allow a bitless bridle, however, they do allow blinker-less headstall. Don’t get discouraged and enjoy driving! GO BITLESS!

    laneyloulou laneyloulou
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    definetly !!!!! its a good way to go

    horses are smarter than you think !

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